Why Cloudflare? The #1 Best Tool For Web Performance & Security

In this article, you’ll learn how to create a free account on Cloudflare with a simple sign-up process that takes less than 5 minutes. You’ll learn how to successfully create an account and then add your first website in simple steps. That’s, if you as a webmaster, wish to increase your web performance & security.

Generally, the public Internet does its best to deliver your content — but it can’t account for network congestion. Leading to slow load times and a degraded end-user experience. The Cloudflare network is different. It routes over 10 trillion global requests per month. Cloudflare was created to ease these difficulties and empower users with the right web resources

Particularly, to make their sites, apps, and blogs safe and performant. So, if you’re a pro web developer, you can start straight away! You can do all this through the use of a powerful edge network that provides content and other services as close to you as possible. Meaning, that you’ll get the information as fast as possible. So, what is it and how does it work?

What Cloudflare Is All About

People use Cloudflare services for the purpose of increasing the security and performance of their websites and services. It’s on a mission to help build a better Internet. Now that it’s one of the biggest networks operating on the Internet. This means that every webmaster needs it for their web performance and security, among other cloud computing key benefits.

Today, businesses, non-profits, bloggers, and anyone with an Internet presence boast faster, more secure websites and apps thanks to Cloudflare. Now that it’s one of the world’s largest networks. For high-performance storage with zero egress charges.

More than 25 million Internet properties are on its platform, and its network is growing by tens of thousands each day. Cloudflare powers Internet requests for ~15% of the Fortune 1,000 for more than 1 billion unique IP addresses per day.

Cloudflare secures and ensures the reliability of your external-facing resources such as websites, APIs, and applications. It protects your internal resources such as behind-the-firewall applications, teams, and devices. And it is your best platform for developing globally scalable applications.

How Does Cloudflare Work?

First of all, in the early days of the Internet, when you wanted to load a website, your request would go from your computer to a server, which would then return the web page you requested. What if too many requests came in at once?

Well, that server could be overwhelmed and crash, becoming unresponsive to anyone trying to access the resources it hosted. This made it difficult for owners of Internet properties to provide content that was fast, safe, and reliable.

How Cloudflare Works

You see, Albert Einstein figured out some time ago that the speed of light is a hard upper limit on how fast you can communicate. And there comes a point when the only thing you can do is move the content and computation closer! That’s why Cloudflare puts data centers in more than 200 cities all across the world: to give you what you’re looking for quickly!

Cloudflare protects and accelerates any website online. Once your website is a part of the Cloudflare community, its web traffic is routed through an intelligent global network. Automatically, they’ll optimize the delivery of your web pages. So that your web visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance.

The main Cloudflare features include:
  • Security: Firewall, DDoS protection, rate limiting, bot management, VPN, and more as seen in their security details.
  • Performance: Intelligent routing, mobile & image optimization, video, cache, and other more elaborate performance details.
  • Reliability: As can be seen, from their reliability details, there is more load balancing, DNS, and even a virtual backbone.

They also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources.

Cloudflare also provides security by protecting Internet properties from malicious activity like DDoS attacks, malicious bots, and other nefarious intrusions. In the end, this allows website owners to easily insert applications into their websites without needing to be a developer. Below are the other benefits that you should know as a webmaster or website owner.

1. Dynamic Content Delivery Management

First, its Load Balancing feature safeguards from service disruptions with local and global traffic load balancing, geographic routing, server health checks, and failover. Whilst, ensuring the continuous availability of your critical resources. Secondly, it also has Image Resizing features for you to resize images for a variety of device types and connections.

And, you can do all this from just a single-source master image. Images can be manipulated by dimensions, compression ratios, and format (AVIF and WebP conversion were supported). It’s also important to realize, that almost half of online consumers will abandon a page that takes more than 2 seconds to load. That’s where automatic optimization kicks in.

End-user experience needs to be immersive, interactive, and real-time – regardless of their location, device, or current network conditions. With Cloudflare’s Automatic Platform Optimization (APO), optimize your WordPress website by switching to a single plugin for CDN, intelligent caching, and other key WordPress optimizations. Turn it on and go (up to 300% faster).

Cloudflare mainly allows for:
  • Congestion Avoidance: Routing decisions informed by real-time network conditions.
  • TCP Optimizations: Persistent TCP connections further minimize latency for non-cacheable content.
  • Global Support: Network routes are supported across the entire Cloudflare network, including China.
  • Tiered Caching: Content served from adjacent data centers reduces cache-miss rates, server load, and end-to-end latency.

If you’re a web developer, Cloudflare allows you to run Javascript code on its powerful edge network, so that you can get as close to a user as possible. This eliminates delays, and improves the experience for users like you! You can also create a Redirect Rule (URL forwarding) to enable a Bulk Redirects List containing one or more URL Redirects.

In addition, they provide Security & Performance for over 25 million Internet properties. While offering great functionality such as SSL and content distribution to every website on their network. Get started with R2 and pay-as-you-go.

2. Provide Security For Your Team And Devices 

Targeted email attacks continue to evade existing email security controls and exploit trusted relationships to remain undetected. Cloudflare has announced its intent to acquire Area 1 Security, a leading cloud-native email security platform. For one thing, to keep employees safe and productive regardless of where they work or the applications they access.

We’re excited to announce that real-time DDoS alerts are now available to Cloudflare customers using the Free plan. When Cloudflare automatically detects and mitigates a DDoS attack that targets your Cloudflare-protected Internet property, it will automatically send you a real-time notification alert by email. To create a DDoS alert, log in to your dashboard.

And then, navigate to the Notifications tab on the Account Home page. Thereafter, click ‘Create’, and select ‘HTTP DDoS Attack Alerter’, or use this link to get started. Behind-the-firewall applications and devices are foundational to the work of your internal teams. Not to mention, the recent surge in remote work is testing the limits of many organizations.

Including VPN and other hardware solutions. Cloudflare for Teams has everything your team members need. Especially, to securely work on corporate applications from any location or device — without a VPN.

They’ll provide you with Cloudflare:
  • Access: Protect behind-the-firewall internal applications, like Jira and Confluence, SAP, or in-house developed applications, without needing a hardware VPN.
  • Gateway: Protect corporate devices from visiting malware and phishing sites, and enforce other corporate web policies for your organization.

Generally, through their new API Gateway announcement, API Shield became available to keep APIs secure and productive. They even shared their vision for its future, as it evolves into a broader API Gateway. They’ve also unveiled machine learning detections in the WAF enhancements, that made WAF protections available for all.

It also saw advanced rate limiting become generally available and updated their WAF interface in the dashboard. Cloudflare is also Democratizing Email Security following its intent to acquire Area 1 as well. Whereby, you can read more (in this article) about how they’ll make phishing and malware protections available for all paying customers.

3. Build Globally Scalable Applications

Following Cloudflare’s acquisition of Vectrix, they set the foundation of what’s next for CASB and opened access to beta invites. At the same time, through their vision for observability add-on, they equally shared their plans to build upon their existing feature — set to make Cloudflare the true single pane of glass for all security-related duties.

When it comes to— building globally scalable applications, the traditional model of building cloud applications requires you to set up containers and deploy them to zones. Should your application or website surge in popularity, you have to manage the scaling process. Cloudflare Workers change that! You write the code, and they handle the rest.

With serverless functions, storage at the edge, and instant static sites, you can build your applications directly onto their network. For more information, you can learn more about how to go about it in this article with more details.

In the same fashion, through their Gateway + CASB integration, you can now do even more. Such as creating Gateway policies directly from CASB security findings — go from finding SaaS application issues to fixing them in minutes. In case you want to upgrade, you can visit its Pricing Plans Page for more details.

4. Get Detailed Performance Analytics

Cloudflare Web Analytics provides free, privacy-first analytics for your website without changing your DNS or using Cloudflare’s proxy. Its Web Analytics helps you understand the performance of your web pages as experienced by your site visitors. All you need to enable Cloudflare Web Analytics is a Cloudflare account and a JavaScript snippet on your page.

In particular, for you to start seeing page views and visitors. The JavaScript snippet (also known as a beacon) collects metrics using the Performance API, which is available in all major web browsers. The Performance Analytics Report includes aggregate visits, page views, and median page load time for all your websites — so you can monitor their performance.

Web Analytics supports Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR), whereas its servers will select the best resolution for each chart or table. More so, depending on the size of the data, the date range, your network connection, and other factors. That said, you can learn more about all their other Web Analytics service solutions in detail.

What I like most about them is that their services run silently in the background. Keeping many of the websites and services you depend on up and running. Bearing in mind, that knowledge is power, the analytics within the dashboard gives you an in-depth look at the performance improvements achieved using Argo Smart Routing.

The detailed analytics include:
  • Comprehensive histogram
  • Comparative traffic response time with Argo enabled
  • Measurable global performance improvements

The data displayed in Web Analytics is Real User Monitoring (RUM), for your information. For this reason, the report includes information about visits, as well as other Core Web Vitals in addition to your top-performing website(s) metrics. So that you can monitor and improve their performance.

Additionally, their Web Analytics Tool now includes the functionality formerly enabled through Browser Insights. Perse, enabling Argo activates Argo Smart Routing and Tiered Caching, reducing Internet latency on average by more than 30% and connection errors by 27%.

5. A Zero Trust Architecture Implementation

When they kicked off Cloudflare One, they had one goal more than anything else — to help the world understand how to get started with Zero Trust. They believe so strongly in this that they worked with security experts to build a vendor-agnostic roadmap to implementing a Zero Trust architecture. Throughout, they also released hardware replacement playbooks

Markedly, the announcement of the new SASE platform capabilities demonstrated their full commitment to their partner ecosystem — going head-to-head with competitors. Cloudflare One is one of the most complete SASE offerings on the market, and they’re just getting started. By introducing Cloudforce One (learn more) they promise to offer you even more.

Whereby, Cloudflare’s new threat operations and the research team will make the existing products better — offer live threat intelligence briefings for Enterprise customers. At the same time, their email security and remote browser isolation are now integrating together. In order to provide extra protection from modern, multi-channel email-based attacks.

By the same token, through their Private Network Discovery add-on features, you’ll now gain better visibility into your private network. So that you can help maintain its security. As well as knowing which resources are in access and the users who are accessing them.

How To Utilize Cloudflare Argo Smart Routing

The Cloudflare network provides Argo Smart Routing with a unique vantage point to detect real-time congestion. And then route web traffic across the fastest and most reliable network paths. The Argo Smart Routing is a service by Cloudflare that uses optimized routes across its network — to deliver responses to your users more quickly, reliably, and securely.

It’s important to realize, that your Internet provider and anyone else listening in on the Internet can see every site you visit and every app you use — even if their content is encrypted. That’s why Cloudflare offers a free DNS service called 1.1.1.1 that you can use on any device. It protects your data from being analyzed or used for targeting you with ads.

On average, web assets perform 30% faster. To fully experience the benefits of Cloudflare, first, you’ll create a Cloudflare account and add a domain to Cloudflare.

Read And Learn How To Install Cloudflare On WordPress The Right Way

When you create a new Cloudflare account, adding an initial domain is included in the workflow. Using a lightweight agent installed on the origin infrastructure (including a container or virtual machine), Cloudflare Argo Tunnel is able to create an encrypted tunnel. Between the nearest data center and the web server’s origin without opening a public inbound port.

This offers an additional layer of protection to keep Internet applications available by protecting them from IP address exposure and DDoS attacks. They’ve also deepened the Cloudflare + Crowdstrike Partnership. So, joint customers now have an even more effective zero trust posture using Crowdstrike endpoint signals with Cloudflare zero trust.

Argo Tunnel is also available upon activation. Although, the use of the Tunnel is optional; it protects servers from IP address exposure and attack. You can view the developer documentation to learn more. This feature is a usage-based product. Learn more about how Argo billing works or even more about this product in detail.

Takeaway Notes:

As a matter of fact, Cloudflare is built for anything connected to the Internet. It’s the foundation for your infrastructure, applications, and teams. While protecting your Internet presence. Not forgetting, your website, APIs, and applications are your key channels for doing business with your customers and suppliers.

As more and more shift online, ensuring these resources are secure, performant, and reliable is a business imperative. Cloudflare for Infrastructure is a complete solution to enable this for anything connected to the Internet. With that in mind, you can have a look at all their products through their official website to learn so much more in full detail.

The easiest way to learn how to use Cloudflare is to sign-up, which takes less than 5 minutes. Or rather, follow their blog for more guidelines or visit their FAQs page web resources. Whilst, for all Cloudflare One Week announcements, blog posts, and Cloudflare TV segment replays, you can visit the Cloudflare One Week web resource page to learn more — all for free!

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Finally, I hope the above-revised guide was useful to you as a webmaster. But, if you’ll need more help, you can Contact Us or even share your thoughts in the comments section. Additionally, don’t forget that you too can Donate in order to support our blog articles research, and other ongoing projects. Don’t forget to share this guide. Until next time, thanks for your time!

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